Over time, all cultures evolve. And family values have always fascinated me. Family values can be affected by a variety of factors, and the reflections can vary. We need to look at the history of Korean culture and family values before we can discuss the modern Korean family. The history will be discussed, beginning with Confucian principles and ending with how the Korean War had a major impact. Here I come to my main question. Globalization was the biggest influence on the Korean Family structure. This is what I would like to look at in the pop culture. Pop culture, in my opinion is an excellent representation of the changes that have occurred over time to Korean family values and how they affect society. Pop culture and media forms make people think about the most difficult questions.
We need to start with a solid historical context. I’ve decided to ignore the details of historical writings for this paper. History is only a small part of the research. For this research, we will use a large period of time to define what is considered traditional. Korea existed under the Chosun Dynasty, until the dawning 20th century. This dynasty centered its society on Confucianism. We can also say that even beyond the Japanese colonial era, Korea still had this main culture and ideology. This study will be based on the assumption that this was a period of traditional Korean cultures.
This patriarchal family is the most prominent culture in traditional Korean culture. This “men first” culture has traditionally been beneficial to men in Korea. As an example, early traditional families believed the family was a benevolent kingdom and the eldest boy was in charge. Segregation would have certainly created some interesting dynamics in families. The old family system was characterized by parents who arranged marriages for their daughters and sons without consent. It is clear from this that the Korean family culture was influenced by their agricultural society. Such strict family structure would not work in urban societies. In Korean households, the elderly are cared for by their families. Recently, the debate has been heated in Korea.
The US intervened in South Korea after the Japanese colonial rule. But before we begin, I would like to say a few words about the nature of war. Anyone who has been involved in war, or studied it, knows that wars separate and destroy families. In the Korean civil conflict, this was magnified because the war was based on disagreements between ideologies.
Families are forced to choose sides. It’s not the same as in wars. In our current political climate, Americans can identify with this tension. From personal experience, I can tell you that our recent election was also a time of family turmoil. Another obvious way to assess war is by looking at the casualties. It is directly related to the way in which the Korean family structure was affected and evolved. It created a generation of children and women who were fatherless. In this context, Korea underwent a rapid modernization at the same time. This is clearly related to the increasing independence of Korean women.
Korea has been through a rapid process of modernization and today is one of most technologically advanced countries on the planet. Chaebol is the group of large multinational corporations that dominates the industry in Korea. Globalization has had a major impact on Korea. This shift brought about so many changes in Korean society. The most important modernization steps were clearly taken after the Korean War. This process has also had a major impact on Korean households since that time.
Industrialization was a direct result of the first globalization-induced pressure on people. With the rapid urbanization, large families began to disappear from culture. South Koreans also shifted their ideologies away from patriarchal families and towards individualism. The growing influence of America in South Korea has also led to a strong relationship between Christianity and the USA. This caused tensions in traditional Korean ideology and Christianity. Globalization was responsible for the global spread of Christianity as well as modern law, education and urbanization. This brings us to the mass media and popular culture of today.
Korean technology has rapidly advanced, resulting in more interaction between families and media. It’s no surprise that South Koreans are very tech-savvy. With 98.5% owning a television, the culture of technology is well established. Numerous studies have shown that television exerts a strong influence on the lives of people. The Korean TV market is so heavily influenced by the media, that this argument has a lot of weight. The lifestyles portrayed in Korean media (specifically Western) are bound to clash with traditional Korean family values. The constant exposure to such influence could “elicit certain audiences behaviors”. It is possible that many of these behavior are just purchasing behaviors, but this would be unfounded and unlikely. As an example, the growth of K-pop has led to more women taking on roles that are not traditional. They also play non-traditional parts on the screen. The examples above all work against the patriarchal tradition in two ways. First, they remove women from their constricting roles. Second, they portray them in roles that are not traditional. Even though the rise in K-pop and Hallyu is not directly linked to family structures, there are many factors that play a role.
This is a very popular film in Korea. The film is very sexual and explores more “deviant fantasies” and acts (Korea). The film has been a huge success and grossed over 37,7 million dollars at the box-office. This popularity of the film is an indication that times are changing. Although this isn’t a film for the family, it does explore different roles women play that are not traditionally accepted. Women are traditionally expected to marry men, work and/or do household chores. As with women, men are expected to be hard workers and provide for their family. Korea’s LGBT movements are growing along with the increase in representation of LGBT individuals in the media. In Seoul, the Pride Parade attracted approximately 120K attendees this year. Other cities held smaller pride celebrations. Media coverage of the parades is also a way to spread the message.
Miss A’s song, I Don’t Need A Man is another example. The title should be enough to explain the meaning of the song, which is that they can take care themselves without any help from a man. They also don’t require financial assistance from their parents. The Korean feminist movement is very controversial, as traditional culture in Korea is patriarchal. It also has misogynistic traits. This song is a good example of a song that challenges traditional roles on two levels. One is women who are independent and non-traditional in their career. Another is singing about non-traditional relationships.
Despite the rapid changes in culture, there are still many parts of families that remain traditional. The patriarchal character of Korean society is one of the most prominent examples of traditional Korean structure. Koreans still retain a man as the head of their household. South Koreans continue to be dominated by the globalization and media. Family structure is largely unchanged, with only minor changes. Confucian cultural values are still an important force in Korea.
After studying the development of Korean family structure and values, I can finally express my feelings. First, I appreciate the fact that families have managed to maintain traditional Korean culture. Because of western pressures and influences, I assumed that there would be only small remnants. It was also fascinating to me that Korea, even when under Japanese colonial control, managed to resist cultural changes. I began to wonder about why Korea did not adopt all of the Japanese concepts that were being imposed on it. It was obvious in the end that the Japanese influence was forced. South Korea’s people were willing to accept the US influence because it came in a positive way.